Foreshore fire fears

WELLINGTON Shire Council will raise issues with the maintenance of the Loch Sport foreshore with the Department of Sustainability and Environment.

Council earlier this month received a petition signed by 142 Loch Sport residents, visitors and property owners, requesting council and DSE remove dead and fallen trees along the foreshore between Clarke St and National Park Rd.

Signatories also wanted the removal of all other dead or dried undergrowth seen as a potential fire fuel and risk for pedestrians.

In response, council resolved to contact DSE to address the issues raised.

Most of the area in question is the responsibility of DSE, with a community-based volunteer committee of management responsible for its management.

Council does manage some parts of the foreshore.

The committee of management has limited resources and is often unable to effectively manage concerns around vegetation management and path quality.

Council and DSE have undertaken some path improvement works in recent years along different sections of the reserve in an effort to address path quality.

An overriding issue is the gravel paths have never been properly constructed because of the difficult terrain and dense vegetation which makes it difficult to access the track for maintenance.

Head petitioner Deidre Gomes, a Hazelwood North resident who has a holiday house in Loch Sport, was pleased council decided to act on the petition quickly, but queried council claims the removal of vegetation could have an adverse impact on the area’s biodiversity.

“Isn’t it a far better option to reduce the fire fuel and have a minimal effect on the biodiversity than it would be to losing it all to fire, which has a much more devastating impact, not only on the flora and fauna, but on the families who live at Loch Sport?” she questioned.

“Loch Sport is a high fire risk area and something needs to be done before the next fire season.

“Common sense needs to prevail.

“Please, let’s not do the buck passing, but all work together and achieve a more livable outcome for all concerned.”

Cr Darren McCubbin said it was obvious DSE needed to look after the foreshore better.

“There’s certainly things that we can do to assist,” he said.